The focus of this study was to identify the main compounds affecting the weight changes of bottom ash (BA) in conventional loss on ignition (LOI) tests and to obtain a better understanding of the individual processes in heterogeneous (waste) materials such as BA. Evaluations were performed on BA samples from a refuse derived fuel incineration (RDF-I) plant and a hospital waste incineration (HW-I) plant using thermogravimetric analysis and subsequent mass spectrometry (TG–MS) analysis of the gaseous thermal decomposition products. Results of TG–MS analysis on RDF-I BA indicated that the LOI measured at 550 °C was due to moisture evaporation and dehydration of Ca(OH)2 and hydrocalumite. Results for the HW-I BA showed that LOI at 550 °C was predominantly related to the elemental carbon (EC) content of the sample. Decomposition of CaCO3 around 700 °C was identified in both materials. In addition, we have identified reaction mechanisms that underestimate the EC and overestimate the CaCO3 contents of the HW-I BA during TG–MS analyses. These types of artefacts are expected to occur also when conventional LOI methods are adopted, in particular for materials that contain CaO/Ca(OH)2 in combination with EC and/or organic carbon, such as e.g. municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) bottom and fly ashes. We suggest that the same mechanisms that we have found (i.e. in situ carbonation) can also occur during combustion of the waste in the incinerator (between 450 and 650 °C) demonstrating that the presence of carbonate in bottom ash is not necessarily indicative for weathering. These results may also give direction to further optimization of waste incineration technologies with regard to stimulating in situ carbonation during incineration and subsequent potential improvement of the leaching behavior of bottom ash.
- unburned carbon